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Finding Your Niche

Robin Kilgore ’20

Robin Kilgore ’20 always planned to go to law school, but for years, other opportunities took priority.

Following graduation from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Kilgore worked as a paralegal and was assigned to a diet drug class action case which quickly grew exponentially and took over her life for several years.

Fast-forward 10 years, Kilgore, now living in Canada working in sales and marketing for a web development company, decided to return to the U.S. and finally go to law school.

“I loved my job, but I knew that if I didn’t make a change, I wasn’t going to grow professionally,” recalls Kilgore. “California Western was appealing to me because it was in sunny San Diego, it was small, and everyone I interacted with in Admissions and Financial Aid long distance was incredibly kind. I was sold when I saw that the California Innocence Project was affiliated with the school.”

Being an “older” student was more challenging than she had imagined, and following some family tragedies during her first trimester, Kilgore’s grades began to suffer. She thought about leaving school.

“With the support of the wonderful people in Cal Western’s Academic Achievement department like Dean Kiyana Kiel, I was able to regroup, start making A’s and B’s, and graduate on time and even with some “AmJures” under my belt,” remembers Kilgore.

Cal Western’s faculty was a major reason for Kilgore’s success. She attributes James Cooper, Ken Klein, Roberta Thyfault, William Aceves, Jessica Fink, and Paul Gudel as professors who inspired her to stay in law school and successfully graduate.

Having missed out on a clinical internship with the California Innocence Project due to falling grades, Kilgore subsequently got the opportunity to extern at New Media Rights in her last trimester, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

“I worked directly with [executive director] Art Neill on most of my projects,” says Kilgore. “Within my first two weeks, I helped protect a client—one of YouTube’s top five channels—by filing a successful claim on their behalf for copyright and trademark infringement that was worth a substantial amount of money. I wrote the terms and conditions for an emerging online marketplace in the home goods sector, and I got to give a lecture to university students on basic copyright law with [staff attorney] Erika Lee.”

Kilgore graduated during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and suffered the effects of successive California Bar Exam postponements.

“I watched my financial cushion dwindle,” recalls Kilgore. “I knew I had to go to work. I contacted Jocelyn Salvatori in the Career and Professional Development Office and told her I had to get a job.”

From the subsequent postings that Salvatori sent her, Kilgore got a job with Adler Law Group as a law clerk interviewing and preparing California wildfire victims’ claims.

“I knew it was the perfect job for the time,” says Kilgore. “I already had mass tort experience from 20 years ago. I was honored and humbled to work with these clients. Each day, working remotely in my apartment, I held space for people while they graphically detailed the worst day of their lives and the fallout that ensued.”

Kilgore credits California Western Professor Ken Klein with helping her be open to the job with Adler. “Professor Klein spoke about his own experience with losing his home to a California wildfire in class,” says Kilgore. “He, a wildfire victim turned hero, does his pro bono work to help wildfire victims understand where to start the arduous recovery process after a wildfire destroys their home.”

Having the fortitude to pursue her goals no matter what, Kilgore has a characteristically direct piece of advice for Cal Western students.

“If you are struggling in law school, do whatever you can to finish,” she says. “A law degree opens all kinds of doors. People automatically treat you with a new level of respect once you have your law degree.”

With her law degree, Kilgore imagined assuming a role in which she blended her e-commerce industry skills with her legal industry skills.

That is now coming to fruition as she recently took a management position with Advocate Law Group, P.C., a legal referral business dealing with insurance and mass tort cases.

“This is my niche,” says Kilgore. “A mix of tech and legal.”